New van used to provide medical care to homeless

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- It is a little bit of hope and health on wheels.

It is a mobile medical unit that brings the doctor to the most vulnerable children in our community.

But it is delivering more than medical care. It is helping heal lives, as we found out when we met Michelle Ray.

"We are doing great, we have our own place to live, we are going to school, she's in school, I work," said Ray, who is well on the road to success, studying to become a nurse, and raising a happy, healthy 8-year-old daughter, Uriel.

It is a journey that all started in an RV, she remembers, "My daughter and I were homeless back in 2009, and at that time at the homeless shelter the Crews'n Healthmobile would come and provide medical care to the children that lived there." 

It was just the service Ray needed.

"At that time my daughter was having problems and we weren't sure what quite was going on," Ray said.

That's how she ended up on a Phoenix Children's Hospital Crews'n Healthmobile and why she was at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the third mobile unit this week.

"The units...are a doctor's office on wheels," said Dr. Randy Christensen. "So homeless children, children living in shelters, children living on the streets that is where we take care of them."

He said many of the kids they see would have no way to get to a doctor otherwise.

"Their parents are working, they can't get to the doctor’s office, they don't have a car.  Whatever the case may be."

Something Ray can vouch for firsthand.

"It does get overwhelming because if you don’t have transportation and you have a small baby you have to carry her around in a car seat or all those seats and stuff like that. And taxi cabs and however you want to do. And you don’t want to miss the appointment because you want your child to get better," said Ray.

That is why for the past 15 years, the RV’s, stocked just like a standalone medical clinic, have traveled the Valley ready to handle what the streets throw at our most vulnerable children, Dr. Christensen said.

"So when we see kids out on the streets, everything you would imagine, coughs, colds, flu, fevers skin infections. Unfortunately there are other things too, there is abuse, there is neglect, there is victims of rape all kinds of really terrible things," said Dr. Christensen.

For Uriel, it was a simple fix, they diagnosed her with asthma, and got her the right treatment.

But at the same time, they were also giving Mom a different type of medicine -- encouragement.

"It gave me some insights on what my goals were and what I wanted to do and so I decided to go to nursing school, so I am a nursing student right now, going to school to be an RN."

It is how hope rolled into her life, and gave her the drive to succeed, she said, "It’s a whole 360."

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The Crews'n Healthmobiles do have set routes. Click here for more information.